tv Nancy Grace HLN August 17, 2009 1:00am-2:00am EDT
and told her about her husband's apparent murder. when she arrived, police say she put on a performance, crying over her husband of six months. >> they're breaking the news to her. of course, all the cops know she set this thing up according to them. now, according to this cop that she's trying to hug, he barely got the words out, "your husband --" and she started wailing. like she anticipated the bad news. another cop says, no matter how much she wailed, she couldn't squeeze out a tear. >> they keep telling me how lucky i am today and i can't really -- it hasn't hit me yet. good evening. i'm nancy grace. i want to thank you for being with us. everyone, very quickly, thank you for all of your calls, e-mails, support. my first novel, a murder mystery thriller "eleventh victim," finally in the bookstores today.
part of my proceeds go to wesley glen ministries, a charity that gives a loving home to the mentally handicapped. again, i want to thank you and i hope you like the book. and now, a young mother with five little children in her minivan barrels down the wrong way on a packed interstate slamming into another vehicle. tally -- eight dead. one child hanging on to life. tragedy? yes. accident? oh, no. toxicology reports mommy high on booze and pot. bombshell tonight, blood is not thicker than alcohol. we learn the family cuts all ties with drunk mom's husband as surveillance video emerges of drunk mom just before the fatal crash. >> reporter: toxicology reports found schuler was twice over the legal alcohol limit and showed evidence of marijuana use. she was coming home from a
camping trip at the time of the accident and was killed instantly, along with her daughter, three nieces, and three passengers in the oncoming car she hit. only her son survived. >> we do not have much in the way of people that morning describing diane schuler other than to say that she was fine, up until the time that she made a phone call. >> at 11:30, she talked to her brother, said, you know what, hit a little bit of traffic, but your girls -- who were in the car, three of them -- will be home in time for their afternoon activities. then at 1:00, she talked to her brother again. and this is where everything went into action sort of, here. because the brother said, are you okay? she said, no, you know, i'm feeling sick, things are spinning around. the brother said, look, stay where you are. at the time, she was at a pulloff area near the tapanzee bridge.
apparently she didn't stay there. >> diane schuler had a blood alcohol level of 0.19%. diane schuler had a high level of thc in her blood. thc is the active ingredient contained in marijuana. >> she is not an alcoholic and my heart is rested every night when i go to bed. something medically had to have happened. >> it's obvious she had a lot of alcohol in her system. she was stoned on pot. there's no way he could not have known that just hours before. >> they're not talking as well as you can expect, because they're in deep mourning. but they keep a stiff upper lip when they have to meet people and you wouldn't believe that they were so saddened. but i know them well and i've seen them under all circumstances. i know they're extremely traumatized by this terrible killing.
i don't call it an accident. it's a killing. >> you are seeing video from abc's "good morning america." straight out to eileen la palmer, reporter with 1010 wens radio. eileen, thank you for being with us. what can you tell me about the video that has emerged of drunk mom just before the fatal crash? >> that's right, nancy. it is surveillance video that we now learn that state police have from that mcdonald's, which is only nine miles from the camp site where she left. that surveillance video, we're told, shows that she was not intoxicated, did not appear to be intoxicated, anyway, from that surveillance video. but keep in mind, that was just nine miles from the camp site and three hours before the crash. and at the time of the crash, as you know, toxicology has said she had a blood alcohol of 0.19 and she also had six grams of undigested alcohol in her stomach, as well as marijuana. so, then, of course, the question is, three hours from there until the crash. so state police have said, she was either drinking and smoking pot directly behind the wheel or she had pulled off at some rest stop. >> out to dr. titus duncan,
medical doctor joining us out of atlanta. dr. duncan, thank you for being with us. about how many drinks does that equal? >> well, the number of drinks just depends on each individual person. you can have one or two drinks and it depends on that person's metabolism as to how quickly it reaches into the bloodstream and to how long -- >> but we've got a woman that is over twice the legal limit. and eileen lehpamer, how much did you say was undigested in her stomach? >> they told us six grams of alcohol, and initially when they put out the toxicology reports, they said that was -- and her 0.19, it was equivalent to ten drinks of 80 proof liquor. that was from the toxicologist. >> equivalent to ten shots of 80 proof liquor. okay, brad lamm.
not that you are an expert in liquor. you're a board-certified interventionist at bradlamm.com. but what does that equal? a shot? what would that be? ten shots. >> just a few ounces, depends on the proof -- but nancy, i'm also -- >> whoa, whoa, whoa -- >> i'm also a alcoholic in recovery -- >> i don't want to hear, it depends on. i want to find out how much we believe she digested. brad, i'll be back with you. all right. to you, eleanor dixon, felony prosecutor. joining us here in our manhattan studios. you and i have both handled a lot of duis prosecuting them. and since we have only prosecuted felonies, in our world, it has to be an hv, habitual violator, before we get our mitts on them, so when i say "a shot," what does that mean to you, eleanor dixon, not on a personal level?
i can think of only two words, i said. too young and too soon. >> children filled four of the five bright white caskets that moved up the steps into our lady of victory, the church in floral park where the schuler and hance families would celebrate the joyful milestones in their lives. >> god wanted them all to be in heaven together, and they had to go together, and they are all angels looking over the family now. >> reporter: that is the only way members of this heartsick community can come to grips with the horrific highway crash that took the lives of 36-year-old diane schuler, her 2-year-old daughter, erin, and her nieces, 8-year-old emma hance and 7-year-old allison and 5-year-old kate. warren hance, father of the
three older girls that died, went to pieces when he tried to thank the hundreds of mourners for their support. the emotion blaring through loudspeakers outside where a hushed crowd hung on his every word. >> love your children. cherish your children. kiss your children. and don't ever forget. >> eight people dead, including these three little girls. mommy, drunk and stoned, according to toxicology reports. tonight, police hone in on daddy, not only that, but blood is not thicker than alcohol. apparently, family cutting all ties with the woman's husband. back to eileen la palma with 1010 wins, and also amanalli, the journalist who was there at the crash. out to you, aman, what can you tell us about cutting ties? >> well, according to the attorneys for the bastardi family, one of the victims of
the crash, he said that the hance family, the father of the three girls, has cut ties with the schuler family. what drove them over the edge was daniel schuler's press conference saying it was not alcohol or marijuana, but her alleged medical conditions that caused this accident. that in conjunction with what was happening at the time. it appears that's what caused the family, the hance family, to cut ties with the schuler family. >> to eileen lehpamer with 1010 wins radio. the family came up with quite a few explanations as to why the crash occurred. >> well, the husband, daniel schuler said a number of things through his attorney as well that maybe she had stroke-like condition that didn't show up in initial autopsy or he also suggested that perhaps she had a tooth abscess or a lump in her leg which they didn't elaborate on, or maybe diabetes that would be linked to when she was pregnant, although we have no indication that she was pregnant. >> right. gestational diabetes ends with
the pregnancy typically. take a look at the q and a that apparently severed all family ties, this as in a stunning twist tonight we learn that grainy surveillance video has emerged of the drunk mom just before the fatal crash. take a listen. >> prior to getting into that car, she had numerous medical conditions, problems. one of them was an abscess which was almost two months old, which she would not go to the dentist for no matter how much he begged her. there was a swelling and pain on the -- left side? >> i believe it was, yes.
>> she had diabetes at various levels. >> what type -- >> excuse me. and then -- remember the rule. if you want to question, you raise your hand. if not, i'll never point to you. okay? she also had a lump on her leg and the lump on the leg -- we are not sure what it was, but it was moving. we have not yet decided to have a new autopsy. >> we don't know what the lump is, but it's moving. okay. peter odom, they are painting themselves into a corner right now. the more the lawyer blabs in
front of the microphone. what is he? the schoolteacher? i'm not going to let you speak unless you raise your hand? i'm surprised he didn't get a rotten tomato right here. >> well, nancy, the husband is in denial and it is understandable, that apparently if there was a condition of alcoholism, it is something he didn't know about and it is completely understandable. i would just like people to -- >> no, no, that's understandable? >> sure. >> renee rockwell, you don't know when your wife is drinking a whole bottle of absolut vodka and using pot? he admitted his wife used pot, how could he say now he doesn't know? and they allowed those children in the car. all the children dead except one sole 5-year-old survivor. >> nancy, it's hard to imagine that he would let his own children in that car if she's impaired behind the wheel. but, nancy, not everybody has to answer with a prison sentence when something horrific happens, such as this case. 8
the sobs of a grieving wife. detectives say it was all a performance. >> no! no! oh, my god! >> reporter: his wife, dalia, is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill him. a confidential informant tipped off police. >> they keep telling me how lucky i am today, and i don't really -- it hasn't hit me yet. >> reporter: dalia dippolito had met with an undercover police officer posing as a hit man. according to police documents, she was prepared to spend $4,200. when asked if she was sure she
wanted her husband killed, she laughed and said "i will be very happy." she also said, "i'm not going to change my mind, i am 5,000% sure i want it done." at the police department, she came face-to-face with the alleged hit man and her husband. this is all she had to say. >> i didn't do anything, and i didn't plot anything. >> during the ride to the police station, we tried not to engage her too much. we just wanted her to kind of drink it all in, what had happened, come to the realization that the plot that she put in motion had succeeded and once we got her to the station, it was very important for us at that time that she react to the questions that we had planned to ask her. she was somewhat subdued. she was crying and, essentially, just making the types of noises you would think, you know, how could this happen, that sort of thing. >> reporter: dippolito is confined to her mother's house, 24/7. michael dippolito told us he thought his wife wanted his money. >> i can't even believe it. yeah, it's crazy.
if she could have just done anything else, she should have. not this. this is just ridiculous. >> mrs. dippolito? detective ramsey. [ inaudible ] >> no, no! no! no, no! oh, my god! oh! i want to see him. >> you need to calm down. okay. >> no, no! >> does he have enemies? is there anyone that would want to hurt him? someone said they saw a black mail running from the -- male running from the house. ma'am, you cannot do this right now. >> please, please!
>> we need to take you to the station. go with this detective. >> please! >> if you want to help your husband, you need to go to the station with these guys. >> no, please! >> and tell us everything you know about who he knows -- >> please! please! >> don't worry, everything's under control. >> in a stunning and bizarre twist, she is out on a low bond, thanks, judge boras. she's bunked up about one mile away from the husband she tried to murder. that's right. she's shacked up with her mommy who's probably cooking her a nice meal right now as she watches this program about herself. straight to you, ellie jostad, our producer, chief editorial producer on the story. ellie, what exactly happened when they first broke the news to her there on video? we heard this through a police source. >> right. right. detective sergeant frank ramsey, he's the officer you see in the video giving her the bad news that her husband is dead. he said he barely got the
sentence out, "your husband has been killed --" and she immediately broke into hysterics. >> ellie, as you were describing it to me earlier before the show tonight, it was more like "your husband --" " oh, oh!" before he could say, "your husband won the lottery." "your husband is trying to reach you." he didn't even get to finish before she broke down in hysterics. >> sergeant ramsey says he's had to deliver bad news to other family members before. usually there's confusion, there's disbelief, there's denial. and he said this almost seemed anticipated. as if she were waiting for him to say this. >> let's unleash the lawyers, eleanor dixon, peter odom, renee rockwell. before she left that morning, she promised she would stop and bring a starbucks back home to him. i would like to use, as evidence for the prosecution, the fact that she only had one cappuccino. what about that, miss rockwell?
>> nancy, this is not a case that is going to go to trial. i can assure you. >> right. >> what is amazing, though, is that an attorney got her a bond that she just has to stay confined to her mother's house. what happens if she violates the bond? drives down the street a mile? >> but, you know, peter odom, she could get that ankle bracelet off and be there before cops could find her, and bam, bam, it's all over. >> nancy, you know that the reason she's out on bond is because it says something about the strength of the state's case. i've got real questions about entrapment here. and -- >> put him back up. put him up! entrapped by who? >> by the police. >> her lover? >> the police creating the crime. >> she went to her lover, according to our sources, wanting to find a hit man and he, wisely, put the skids on his involvement and told the cops. now, entrapment by who? you can't be entrapped by your lover. the cops didn't seek her out, peter odom.
>> the police were so quick to release this video, by the way was made by the people from "cops" -- >> so now you're mad because they released a video. what happened to your entrapment theory, peter. where did that go. bye-bye. >> all we have is the police talking about what their evidence is. we haven't seen it yet, have we? i'd like to see it. >> so first you're po'd because they released it, now you're po'd because you haven't seen it. >> i want to see the tape. >> i'm going to let you get your story straight. eleanor dixon, help. >> well, poor defense lawyers, they just don't see it, do they, nancy? it's a good case for the state. i don't know what happened to good old-fashioned divorce, but they've clearly got her. they've got her on tape. but what is unconscionable to me, the fact that she is sitting at home with her mom eating a good, home-cooked meal when she should be in jail awaiting trial.
>> that's right. hugh nolan, investigative reporter joining us in miami. why isn't she enjoying the luxury of one of those nice steel commodes that you share with the other lovely female inmates on your cell block? >> well, she may well soon if the husband's attorneys have their way. we have just filed today in the criminal case the appearance of an attorney by the name of guy franceton from boca raton as the attorney for the victim, that would be michael dippolito. we don't have a formal filing other than that notice of appearance, but given statements made by the husband's attorneys, it seems very likely that he will be attempting to convince the judge to revoke that bond status. the bond, however, it must be said, was agreed to by the state attorney's office, by the defense attorney, in fact, the boca -- excuse me, the boynton beach police department has made statements essentially saying they didn't have any problem with it. it's going to be a fight to get that bond revoked. >> well, mr. nolan, they may not have a problem with it, but i do, all right? as a crime victim myself, and on behalf of other crime victims, i
think it's unconscionable that she is out on bond, after going so far as to meet up, how many times with the would-be hit man, right there in the parking lot of a cvs. hello. there are video cameras out there, we can see you. it's not exactly secret out there, hugh nolan. do we know yet, do we have confirmation that the secret informant was her lover? >> no, we do not. we have the statements by his attorneys specifically in the civil case that she was seeing a man. that's the only language that's been used formally in court pleadings. they have stated, publicly, that they believe that this was, in fact, a lover. >> okay. we'll all be right back. but, first, tonight's safety tips. protect yourself and your computer while you're in cyberspace. install a firewall and an antivirus software program. it stops hackers from accessing your private information, deleting files, or infecting your computer with a virus. keep your operating system on, keep it up to date and ensure your computer has the latest protections. think twice when you download. never open e-mail attachments from somebody you don't know. turn off your computer when not in use. to fend off unwanted attacks and for more information, go to fbi.gov and click on "be crime
>> detectives say they received a tip about dalia's plan. she had been dealing with an undercover police officer, posing as a hit man. >> the report says the two met several times in a parking lot at a cvs and at a gas station. when the officer asked if she was sure she wanted it done, she replied, "i'm not going to change my mind. i am 5,000% sure i want it done." >> reporter: michael dippolito and his wife met less than a year ago. he's now 38, she's 26. they were married six months ago. he says strange things started happening. money went missing, threatening notes were left on his car. he says, now that makes sense. but it's far different than his wife trying to kill him. >> there was a lot of funny stuff going on. i overlooked a lot of things. you know, you try and see the
best in people, not the worst. i feel a little bad, but i mean, there's no reason she had to do this. >> back to ellie jostad, our chief editorial producer. now the possibility rears its head that this may not have been her first attempt to get hubby. what happened? >> right, nancy. back in march, strange things started happening. first, police got an anonymous tip that michael dippolito was selling drugs, ecstasy, steroids out of his house. twice he walked out to his vehicle to find cops, even one time drug-sniffing dogs around his car. again, they had gotten tips he was selling drugs. they even got a couple of phone calls. first from somebody who said he was a detective from boynton beach police, and the detective was investigating threats against the family. dalia dippolito said she got another threatening phone call and they even found a note on michael's truck that said "give us $40,000 or we'll kill you" or something to that effect. >> straight back to hugh nolan, investigative reporter. i guess by the time cops finally got out there and they found some cocaine, apparently planted in his car, they started
becoming suspicious, because there had been multiple anonymous tips to police that he was up to wrongdoing, none of them panned out. mysterious phone calls, threatening phone calls to the home. even a threatening letter, a note. >> yes. all of those things took place in a very brief period of time. as a matter of fact, that first police report that we obtained from the boynton beach police department was filed five weeks to the day after the marriage between dalia and michael dippolito. that was actually a report that there were drugs being sold out of the house. within a month, there was another report filed. now, this one's a little different from the other two. this actually was a neighbor of the couple who contacted police, because of having heard a loud argument, and police responded to that, spoke to both husband and wife and were told that this was a fight about money. now, the really strange incidents are the ones that are
detailed in the may police report. this is michael dippolito's complaint about having received these harassing phone calls and these threats. and even a little bit more serious, a death threat, if he didn't leave $40,000 in a prearranged place in the parking lot of the same la fitness at which dalia was working out, as she thought her husband was going to be killed. >> i want to go to vince velasquez, homicide detective there in atlanta. what do you make of this plot? and how often do you see murder for hire? >> nancy, i've actually investigated a couple of murder for hire cases after the fact, but looking at these past calls for service, it looks like she's trying to set up a pattern of situations that may support the murder when it happened. i would be interested on a handwriting analysis on the note and also the phone records to see where those calls were coming from. >> to dr. titus duncan, general surgeon, joining us out of atlanta. dr. duncan, as part of her scary, scary house arrest the
judge put her on, thank you, judge boras, she's got to be drug tested. what are they looking for? >> they're looking for all sort of things like barbiturates, was she taking marijuana, any sort of drug that she shouldn't be taking at all that may sort of alter her mindset. they're looking for a bunch of things and the drug test is very, very sensitive to get and you can get almost anything that you want to and see if that person is really, really following the rules. >> to dr. caryn stark, psychologist, joining us here in new york. i keep asking this question and i'm not getting an answer from anybody. what do you do the night before your husband is going to be murdered and you've got it all plotted out. do you sleep with him? do you give him extra blueberries in his cereal the next morning? what? i mean, how can you -- how can a person put up that facade, all the while knowing he's going to be shot in the head in a couple of hours. no problem, right there on the carpet. >> it takes a particular type of person, nancy.
it takes a -- >> that's what i keep hearing. be a little more specific. >> it's an anti-social personality. that means it's not someone who's going to ask for a divorce. it's somebody who gets a thrill out of the idea of having him killed. who has no conscience and can go ahead and sleep with him or give him blueberries, do whatever she wants. because life is fine for her no matter what happens to him. >> what's amazing to me, back to you, eleanor dixon, felony prosecutor out of the atlanta jurisdiction, is that he has to go to court and get a restraining order. now, she's just hired a hit man to rub him out, to shoot him dead, in the head, in the home, while she's on the elliptical a few miles away. and that's okay with her, no problem. because you know what she's going to get, a $250,000 town home. i've got the description right here. granite countertops, smooth top range, stainless steel appliances, floor upgraded, tile laid on the diagonal, what's not to like, eleanor? but isn't it odd, she tries to take out a hit on him and now he's got to go back to court to get a restraining order because she's bunked up less than a mile away from him? i mean, what's going on down
there? >> it's unfortunate, nancy, because victims are often re-victimized in this manner. apparently, the bond conditions he felt were not strong enough to protect him and added this extra layer of protection. of course, let's hope it's a good layer of protection, because some defendants just walk right through that piece of paper. >> to ellie jostad, what can you tell me about her signing a waiver to be on the series "cops"? >> right, nancy, in addition to boynton police videotaping her reaction to the news that her husband had been killed, supposedly, the tv show "cops" was also there, filming it. now, her attorney says that she did sign a waiver which would allow the video to appear on the tv show, but he said she was confused, she was misled, she didn't know what she was signing. >> so we can look forward to seeing this on television, the whole thing? >> very possibly, yes. >> okay, ellie, what else is happening in the case? >> well, nancy, they have a
hearing next week to make that protective order permanent. we don't know if we'll hear more about what's going on then. also, dalia dippolito has her initial appearance in september >> at one point she said she was 5,000% sure she wanted her husband dead then she was sobbing as if her world crumbled. ñññoññ ooññyñ